|Location||115 Yorkville Avenue|
|Dinner for two with wine||$180|
Yorkville is full of swanky places to see and be seen—from ONE’s fancy corner patio to Hemingway’s laid back rooftop. When Kasa Moto opened its doors in the spring of 2015, it became another place to add to the growing list of local hot spots. Situated on Yorkville Avenue in the old Remy’s, the dimly lit lounge-like space is always bumping on evenings and socialites flock to the rooftop terrace during the warmer months.
Under the Chase Hospitality Group (The Chase Fish & Oyster, Colette Grand Café, Planta) umbrella, Kasa Moto offers contemporary Japanese cuisine that charts a far-out adventure to the Land of the Rising Sun. Like popular Asian fusion restaurants such as Buddhakhan in New York City, the restaurant’s servers look like they could grace a GQ cover or strut the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
After two years of same old, same old, Kasa Moto recently refreshed its menu, adding some new surprises while keeping fan favourites (coucou, rock shrimp tempura). I had the pleasure of treating my taste buds to a patio dinner on a sunny September evening.
Having dined there a few times before, I was expecting über-stylized dishes, much like the individuals that surrounded us, coupled with mediocre taste and service at a high price point. Don’t get me wrong, the food was decent, but any establishment in Yorkville should come with a warning of inflated food and drink prices.
The menu was divided into seven sections: cold, hot, rice and noodles, seafood, meat, maki, and sushi and sashimi. It had a dozen relatively conventional entrées as well as 14 varieties of sashimi and emphasized sharing.
After a horrible food poisoning incident, I wasn’t ready to test my luck by stomaching sashimi. Instead, my guest and I shared four plates paired with a crisp glass of chardonnay from the extensive wine list. We started with the Asian Slaw ($16) and Rock Shrimp Tempura ($18). Piled high on a contemporary pottery dish, the Asian Slaw was reminiscent of Lee’s Signature Singaporean Style Slaw. It begged for a tableside mix from the server. The slightly acidic vinaigrette had sharp notes of ginger, balanced the other components and the mixed nuts added some texture, but I didn’t dig in for seconds. Rien de spécial.
I practically dove into the Rock Shrimp Tempura with my chopsticks before it even landed on the table. This signature dish is not to be missed—even at the elevated price-to-portion ratio. Although you’d rarely see something like this in traditional Japanese cuisine, it’s the most crazily-addictive thing I’ve tasted. Ultra-fresh pieces of perfectly tender rock shrimp were enveloped in crispy tempura that provided a satisfying crunch. The accompanying sweet ginger sauce was subtle enough to highlight (rather than overshadow) the delicate crustacean. J’en veux deux de plus!
Rice and noodles dishes are staples at many Japanese restaurants, but Kasa Moto offers more posh interpretations. The Kamameshi ($18), recommended by our flamboyant server, arrived in a deep stone pot, which he mixed right before our eyes and scooped into perfectly shaped mounds. The mushroom, burdock root and subtle truffle soy butter were nice compliments to a normally bland grain, although I found the truffle soy butter a tad oily.
I didn’t expect fish to be as beautifully cooked as the Miso Black Cod ($43). Ever since Nobu, no splashy Asian fusion restaurant is complete without some version of this dish. Priced on the steep side like everything else, the snow-white fish was served with a sweet potato and squash puree that my guest practically licked from the plate. Seigneur! Goma-ae green beans and scallions decorated the fish centerpiece and the glistening miso glaze added the perfect amount of sweetness. This was the dish that eliminated any doubt that Kasa Moto’s kitchen had refined skill. My compliments to executive chef Michael Parubocki and his team.
Regardless of food that doesn’t live up to Yorkville’s highfalutin status, Kasa Moto’s ambiance will contribute to an entertaining evening. It’s better suited to the youthful Yorkvillians who are eager to put down their Amex Black Card in exchange for evenings full of fake hugs and air kisses. For more authentic Japanese, pop into to Sushi Inn. Although the glitz and glam is stripped away, you’ll get better food at a fraction of the price.
Le rubrique de Madame Marie
1 étoile – Run. Before you get the runs.
2 étoiles – Mediocre, but nothing you couldn’t make at home.
3 étoiles – C’est bon, with some standout qualities.
4 étoiles – Many memorable qualities and excellent execution. Compliments to the chef.
5 étoiles – Formidable! Michelin Star quality. Book a reservation immediately.